Model Tested: 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD
Engine: 1.6-Liter Inline Turbo 4
Transmission: 7-Speed Quick-Shift DCT Automatic
Horsepower: 175 • Torque: 195 lb.-ft.
EPA Ratings: 25/City • 30/Highway • 27/Combined
Base Price: $27,890
As Tested: $29,485
Overview: The 2021 Kia Seltos is the newest addition to Kia’s small crossover lineup, which includes the Soul, Niro and Sportage.
It combines the Soul’s maneuverable size with a slightly longer body, adds expressive styling, upscale interior and available turbocharged power — plus optional All-Wheel Drive that features hill descent control and a locking center differential.
The Seltos faces some serious competition, including its sibling Hyundai Kona — with which it shares mechanical components — as well as the Mazda CX3, Honda HR-V, and Subaru Crosstrek, plus more expensive entries from Audi and BMW among others in the crowded subcompact crossover class. Our test driver was the SX turbo, which this review focuses on.
Walkaround: The Seltos looks like most other subcompact SUVs — with Kia’s unique styling that includes wraparound LED headlights, a slightly rear-sloping roofline and attractive treatment of the rear end.
Interior: The interior is remarkably upscale, with simulated leather upholstery that feels like the real thing, making it appear luxurious compared to others in its class. Soft-touch plastics and piano black trim are abundant in the front of the cabin. Like the Soul, it has optional ambient cabin light strips that pulsate with your music.
The available power-adjustable front seat plus a sliding center armrest, ensure drivers of all sizes comfortable seating. Although the available 10.25-inch touchscreen with Navigation is set high on top of the dash, it’s within easy reach of the driver — and conveniently placed buttons help navigate the interface.
The Seltos is spacious enough for at least four adults and all their gear. Rear passengers aren’t forgotten, with two rear seat reclining positions, plenty of headroom, rear climate vents and a USB port.
The Seltos offers a generous array of tech features, including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, wireless charging pad, and an eight-speaker Bose sound system. Kia is known for its tech, and the Seltos features numerous safety systems
There’s 26.6 cubic-feet of cargo room behind the rear seat. With the rear seats flat, the Seltos boasts best-in-class 62.8 cubic feet
Behind The Wheel: Our test-driver featured the sporty turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and delivering 175 horses. The engine provides plenty of smooth acceleration, with smooth shifts from the dual-clutch transmission.
The ride felt comfortable on the smooth surfaces, but bumps at lower speeds were more pronounced than we anticipated. There’s also a fair amount of tire noise on rough surfaces.
Steering and handling offered a lack of driver feedback, and body lean is more pronounced than in the Soul.
Bottom Line: For a subcompact crossover both passenger and cargo areas are quite spacious, and tech abounds. The Seltos is definitely worth a test drive.